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Federal Administrative Law

A guide to locating regulations, agency decisions and Presidential documents available in the UCLA Law Library and Online.


On the federal level, the term administrative law refers to the law created by the many and varied federal executive and administrative agencies.  Executive Departments (such as Labor, Education) are represented in the President’s cabinet.  Agencies (such as the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency) may be created by or have authority delegated to them from Congress.  (See Richard J. Pierce, Administrative Law Treatise, N.Y.: Aspen Law & Business 4th ed., 2002, Chapt. 1 (KF 5402 D315 2002 - Level 2)).

Agencies have quasi-legislative power as well as quasi-judicial power. See Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. § 551 (1988).  They may also issue advisory opinions.  Their legislative enactments are generally referred to as regulations or rules.  The terminology for the adjudicatory functions (decisions in disputes) and advisory functions varies from agency to agency; they are typically referred to as decisions or opinions but they may also be called orders or releases.

Set out below are the principal bibliographic products of the federal administrative process available in the library. Before describing these individual items, however, we want to call your attention to a kind of publication which may simplify and accelerate your research:

LOOSELEAF SERVICES: Looseleaf services are available for specific subject areas of law, particularly those that are heavily legislated or regulated such as tax, securities, and labor.  Not only are looseleafs usually very current (some are updated weekly), but they often also contain relevant primary sources of law and some secondary materials in one publication.  In addition to statutes, regulations, court cases and administrative agency decisions, they generally provide current awareness information such as news of proposed legislation and pending regulations.  These services are often better indexed than the government publications and contain other features to help you locate information.  Consequently, when researching a problem of administrative law, you may want to first determine if a looseleaf service is published for your topic (check Legal Looseleafs in Print, KF 1 S7 Reference Reading Room)  and use this as a starting point rather than the official publications.

INTERNET RESOURCES: A particularly useful site for locating websites for federal agencies is LSU Libraries' Federal Agency Directory.

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